Mexican Hot or McDonald’s Hot?

The unsuspecting patron takes a giant bite of his McBlazing Wrap. Whips crack. Flames spurt. Explosions.

The McDonald’s commercial is implying that this meal is hot. I can assure you, though, that while I might find it well seasoned, I wouldn’t be reaching for the sugar water to douse the burning sensation in my mouth. Because I spent half of my childhood eating in Mexico, my notion of spicy is quite different from most of the folks who frequent McDonald’s. And, in fact, from most of the folks who live around here. A friend across the state line once remarked, “Minnesotans think ketchup is hot”.

image by Charlie Balch

Why does McDonald’s pretend their meal is so spicy?

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Books are 99% Commodity — Sell the Other 1%

There are more books than you could read in a hundred years, even if that’s all you ever did. In a way, books are a commodity.

The firehose-stream of new books, both independent and traditionally published, makes individual books even harder to distinguish. Your only hope of being found is to focus relentlessly on the 1% which makes your book unique.

I’m not suggesting that you find a way to convince people that your book is unlike anything which has ever come before. If you’ve written a murder mystery, your book is 99% like every murder mystery since Poe invented the genre. If your book is a historical romance, ditto.

photo by meral akbulut

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Growing Followers

Your blog and newsletter (oh, please tell me you have both!) are where your fans get to know you as a person and develop the connection which will ensure their fandom for life.

List-growing is all the rage. More more more. Ask these folks “Are you looking for more followers, or better followers?” and they’ll universally say “Both!”

Consider the concept of focus: it’s not possible, with our eyes or our mind, to focus on two things at once. That’s just not what focus means.

photo of crowd by michael lorenzo; photo of glasses by Alfonso Romero
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The One True Measurement Your Fans Care About

It’s not how many
they gave it at Amazon.

It’s not how well it was
It’s not that it was available in their
of choice: Kindle, Nook, print, audio.
It’s not the
It’s not
how long
or short it is.

image by Billy Alexander
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I Will Never Adjust My Art to Suit You

person from a photo by Jason Antony child's drawing by the Horton Group seem to think they need to please their fans, or Amazon, or a publisher. I know I’ll be the voice no one wants to hear, but I don’t change my art for anyone. And yeah, you’re gonna say that I’ll never be a best-seller; that if you don’t bend to the market, you’ll never get popular.

But I already have real-life experience which says otherwise.
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When should I start my author website? What should I put on it?

(Another question frequently asked)

You should start marketing your book the day you’re sure you’re going to write it. Your website is a major part of your marketing.

theatre photo by Herman Brinkman how movies are marketed. A year in advance, sometimes more, teasers start to come out. A website goes up with trivia, bits and pieces.

As the date approaches, the teasers turn into trailers, longer more detailed snippets to suck you in and build excitement, buzz.

Just before the launch is when the big blitz happens, but it only matters because real fans have been talking about it since the announcement a year ago.
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